HARMONY DIPLOMACY: BE MORE A RESPONSIBLE WORLD POWER, NEITHER AN ENEMY, NOR A PARTNER, NOR A JUDGE
BY FRANCIS C W FUNG, PH.D.
San Francisco, November 19, 2009
This essay is a humble response to PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer broadcast (November 16, 2009) following President Obama’s town hall meeting in Shanghai. In answering Lehrer’s question “Will China be a partner or an enemy to America?”, James Fallows, the seasoned journalist, replied “Probably neither.” All indications point to China becoming “both an important partner … and a contender in various ways.” Fallows is the distinguished editor in chief of the Atlantic Monthly and a personal friend. With due respect and not to steal his thunder, I wish to expound further.
Jim Lehrer’s repeated question to his media panel was “Will China become a partner or an enemy to America?” This question is riddled with a Cold War overtone and is not at all appropriate and beneficial to Obama’s practice of harmony intentions. China consistently insists on the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs. She has practiced her professed independent foreign policy since her founding and has no intention to become America’s enemy. In support of building a better consensus for coming cooperation between the greatest developed world power and the developing world power, I suggest the timely practice reflected by the title “Harmony Diplomacy: be more a responsible world power, neither an enemy, nor a partner, nor a judge”
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE OPEN TO THE WORLD
As a student interested in U.S. China relations since my days at Brown University after I emigrated from Shanghai, I cannot claim I am an expert comparable to James Fallows’ depth of experience. But as a bicultural person living in America for over 50 years and raising three multicultural children, the PBS news story about Obama’s visit to China reminded me two pieces of Chinese wisdom. Laotze advised: the more powerful, the more one needs humility. And, Confucius once said that insensitive lecturing is more a sin than a virtue. Obama is in a position to advise China about openness. China, as a nation, judging by the success of three decades of reform and opening up, fully appreciates that a progressive nation must be open to the outside. Most of all, openness needs to be followed by humility and the will to learn. The rise of China as a nation fully demonstrates the Chinese people’s willingness to learn from the outside. Nevertheless, we must guard against free public advice, less we trample on others’ dignity.
As a young country, America is well endowed in resources and financial successes. We are lucky to have attracted so many foreign talents who contributed to building a prosperous society. But, are we willing to learn from these foreign cultures or their success experiences, instead of making excuses? Especially from Eastern cultures that may hold a drastically different philosophy and pursue different development paths? What happens if a reverse “brain drain” takes place when our economy is in relative decline during a financial crisis? (For example, see the November 17, 2009 Time magazine article “Obama's Half Brother Mark Obama Ndesandjo Speaks Up in China.”)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AMERICAN AND CHINESE OPENNESS
Chinese students of her long history understand that the rise of Han and T’ang dynasties came about because of extensive cultural interaction with the world through flourishing commerce via the silk route that reached to Europe. They also understand the set backs of a self-imposed closed society during the later Ching dynasty (1600s – 1900s) because of the complacent and arrogant attitude that China had nothing to learn from the outside world. For over three hundred years since 1700, China suffered bitterly for not opening enough to the outside. However, the more recent Western-imposed containment during the early years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was not entirely the fault of the Chinese government. (Mao Zedong was eager to normalize U.S.–China relations by launching "ping-pong diplomacy"). Thank goodness, that is all in the past and China has forged ahead with her reform and opening up initiated by Deng Xiaoping. The last three decades of China’s success amply testify to her willingness to learn from the outside. There is no turning back.
In my honest opinion and observation for today, America has a confident and open domestic society. But China is more open to the outside, because the nation as a whole is more willing to learn from the outside. Mere openness to outside news, without the humility to learn, can result in self-censorship and block acceptance of news about outside culture and success. This failing has happened to all declining powers in the past.
China’s willingness to learn from the outside during the last three decades is exemplary for a country of her size. Throughout PBS news' spontaneous interviews of persons on the street during Obama’s Beijing visit, all knew Obama by name. A simple game of statistics by interviewing residents of major U.S. and China cities would no doubt show that more Chinese know Obama by name than Americans know Hu Jintao by name. There is a general lack of respect and arrogance of the American public towards Chinese culture. This attitude is nurtured by the U.S. media’s chronic criticism of the Chinese government. This trend will continue unless the U.S. as a nation demands the implementation of fair, accurate, and more diverse cultural reporting by the U.S. media, as signed onto by all major media in the World Media Summit Declaration, Oct. 2009.
Interestingly enough, a similar contrast can be observed in the history of East and West cultures. Traditionally, the Chinese agrarian society exhibited a tightly controlled family and imperial structure, with a stern head of the household and emperor. The order of the society was Confucian with strict moral discipline within. However, the Chinese empire was never very expansionistic and was satisfied with a tributary system, rather than imposing its values on its neighbors. On the other hand, Western power was typically expansionistic and colonized the conquered territories. At the same time, Western culture traditionally valued democracy and practiced a loose family order. This is in keeping with American’s wish to police the world; yet the society within is very liberal. This cultural gap between East and West will take continuing dialogue to bridge and is the main reason for America’s critical view of China's domestic policy. The world order today is not very democratic internationally. A new world order is needed for our multilateral, multicultural world.
With the current trend continuing, China will become more liberal and will improve its domestic openness, including the internet for domestic consumption. By all indications, China will grow more confident about her internal security as the government implements its “Concept of Scientific Development” and the country becomes more prosperous and its society more harmonious. This will take time. China will also remain internationally more outward-looking to learn from the outside than America is. For China, this is by necessity, as well as by national determination, for a long time to come.
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S MEETING IN CHINA, HARMONY DIPLOMACY IN ACTION.
President Obama is a man of vision. He is a rare U.S. president with a diverse ethnic background, who has respect for Asian culture. Besides his own experience in South East Asia, it has recently come to the public that his half brother and sister are both successfully married to Chinese spouses. His speech and fielding of Chinese youths’ questions showed respect and humility for his Chinese host. I am also a great admirer of Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premeir Wen Jiabao for their humility and dedication to serve the Chinese nation and for their advocacy for world harmony. I have confidence that, together, these three dedicated public servants of America and China will steer a promising course to a U.S. – China strategic partnership for a harmonious future.
To quote the November 16, 2009 Xinhua News, President Obama set an example for Harmony Diplomacy in action:
Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that different countries should learn from each other to diversify cultures in the world.
"Each country in this interconnecting world has its own culture, its own history, and its own traditions," Obama said during a dialogue with Chinese students in the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.
"It is very important for the United States not to assume what is good for us is automatically good for somebody else," he said when responding to a question raised by a Shanghai college student about how to promote cultural exchanges between different countries.
Obama said one of the U.S. strengths is the country has a very diverse culture, and has people coming from all around the world. "There is no one definition of what America looks like," he added.
He cited his family as an example of diverse cultures, saying the family is like "the United Nations" as his father was from Kenya, his mother from Kansas of the U.S. Midwest, while his sister was a half-Indonesian married to "a Chinese person from Canada.
JOINT STATEMENT ISSUED BY OBAMA AND HU JINTAO
According to an Associated Press Novemebr 18, 2009 report:
At a state banquet Tuesday night, the People's Liberation Army band serenaded Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and much of the Chinese leadership with American songs including ‘I just Called to Say I Love You’, ‘We are the World’ and ‘In the Mood’."
The joint statement that Obama and Hu issued was the broadest of its kind in 30 years of formal relations. It contained expressions of cooperation in relations between their two often-mistrustful militaries, on a human rights dialogue, on space exploration, and on shoring up Afghanistan and Pakistan — as well as the big topics of climate change, economic recovery, and defanging North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs.
"It's wonderful to have the President Obama here," Lu Hualin, a middle-aged office administrator in Beijing's business district, said Tuesday. "I didn't watch the town hall, but it's pretty obvious that the Chinese really like him for the energy, intellect and charisma he brings to the conversation. I think we'll welcome anyone who has an agenda to better the world and work toward world peace."
Hu said each country should respect the other's "core interests" — code for Washington to end arms sales for Taiwan and support for the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exiled government. The Xinhua News Agency later quoted Hu as saying Washington should also ban advocates for Muslim ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang, the western China region where anti-Chinese rioting flared anew this summer.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER AND HARMONY RENAISSANCE
The unprecedented comprehensive joint statement shows the success of Obama’s harmony diplomacy in China. America needs China to continue to fund the U.S. deficit. China needs the U.S. to support her effort to unify the nation, including Tibet and Xinjiang. In the past, America, in the name of human rights, has interfered in what China considered as internal affairs by supporting the Dalai Lama and the Xinjiang separatist movement. On both counts, the Chinese citizens are overwhelmingly behind their government. Thus, America’s double standard of treating Al-Qaida as a terrorist movement and Tibet and Xinjiang as a human rights issue will not be credible in the long run. Thus, too, the continuing human rights dialogue is instrumental and essential in bridging the cultural and core interest gap between the two world powers.
America’s founding values are freedom and democracy, both inherited from European Renaissance. The rise of China has necessitated the U.S. media to practice self-censorship to protect the status quo. In so doing, it stumbles to slow harmony philosophy from growing in America. Harmony is an ancient cultural common value of the world. The twelve virtues of harmony are TOLERANCE, ACCEPTANCE, RESPECT, KINDNESS, FORGIVENESS, HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, PATIENCE, EQUITY, NONVIOLENCE, GREEN ECOLOGY, AND CONSERVATION. The last two being actions we now must collectively take urgently to harmonize with nature in order to avoid catastrophe on earth.
In today’s multilateral world, a Harmony Renaissance is inevitable. Harmony Renaissance is the renaissance of world civilization. Harmony Renaissance will unshackle us from racial, ideological, and religious strife. As a young dynamic country, America should act more like a responsible power to advocate Harmony Renaissance. Harmony Renaissance is the next wave of creative energy that will lead humankind to the next level of accomplishment beyond the European Renaissance.
In an interview with Charley Rose on November 17, 2009, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who was instrumental in normalizing U.S. – China relations, expounded on the coming of a new world order. He declared that world order means America and China must work in consensus, harmony consensus. Harmony Renaissance will herald that brave new world of peace and prosperity. To build a new world order, it is paramount that U.S. lead in harmony diplomacy.
Francis C W Fung, Ph.D.,
World Harmony Organization
Dr. Fung’s Background:
Francis C W Fung, Ph.D., received his education at Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Notre Dame. He is the founder and Director General of the World Harmony Organization, a U.N. accredited non-profit public benefit NGO. He is also a leading scholar on Stirling engines. As a prolific and creative thinker, his over 200 essays, papers, inventions, and five books on Harmony Renaissance, broadly include engineering research, national energy planning, Stirling engine renaissance, international relations, Harmony Faith, and Harmony Renaissance. His prophetic statement, “The steam engine initiated the 19th century, the internal combustion engine powered the 20th century, and the Stirling engine will herald 21st century Green Harmony”, delivered at the 2nd International Conference on Stirling Engines, cannot be more true today. Currently, Dr. Fung devotes his entire energy to advocating worldwide solar Stirling power as green energy alternative to nuclear and fossil power through his high-level connections developed during his intensive career and promoting Harmony Renaissance Platform with United Nations. He will continue to travel with his associates to China, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America to further these causes.